Chico, the Chihuahua who appeared in the entire 2007-08 Broadway run of Legally Blonde – The Musical, as well as the national tour, regional productions, an MTV taping of the show and an Amazon reality series about his owner and trainer Bill Berloni, died March 11. He was 14, and his death was announced by Berloni.
As the Legally Blonde character Bruiser, Chico became the public face of the show, on billboards, print ads and the musical’s official logo. Chico also made the Broadway record books: According to Berloni, the Chihuahua was the first dog ever trusted to deliver a production’s crucial opening “conversation.” As the musical begins, a human character asks “Brusier” where main character Elle Woods is. Bruiser barks an answer, then repeats the routine for three additional questions, crucially setting up the first scene’s premise.
In addition to Legally Blonde, Chico was included in Amazon’s From Wags To Riches With Bill Berloni, a reality show about rescue animals trained for the entertainment industry. A severely abused Chico had been rescued by Berloni at the Associated Humane Society in Newark, New Jersey. “If I didn’t take him, he would have been euthanized,” said Berloni in a statement. “Something about him spoke to me, and so we took him and rehabilitated him.”
Donations in Chico’s name can be made to The Sandy Fund at the Humane Society of New York, an endowment fund to benefit homeless animals created by Bill and Dorothy Berloni in honor of their first canine Broadway star, Annie‘s “Sandy.”
Read Berloni’s Instagram account of Chico’s story below.
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On Monday, March 11th, our beloved Chico crossed the rainbow bridge. His journey to the Palace Theater, where he originated the role of Bruiser Woods in LEGALLY BLONDE – THE MUSICAL, began at the Associated Humane Society in Newark, NJ when he was mistakenly shown to Bill. Chico had been severely abused and was actually slated for euthanasia. He "spoke" to Bill that day, however, and despite everyone at the shelter telling him he was the absolute wrong choice, Bill took him…if nothing else to find him the perfect forever home. Destiny intervened at a press event for LEGALLY BLONDE when the show's director, Jerry Mitchell, fell in love with our little chihuaha and declared “This is our Bruiser!" Original cast members Laura Bell Bundy, Annaleigh Ashford, and Christian Borle worked patiently to help Chico overcome his fears, learn to trust again, and become the first dog ever trusted to open a Broadway show and deliver crucial exposition to Margot and the Delta Nus on the whereabouts of his pink princess Elle Woods. He was a true star and the show literally couldn’t go on without his talents! Chico went on to do the entire Broadway run of LEGALLY BLONDE, followed by the national tour and numerous regional productions before retiring two years ago. Chico often travelled with Bill to do talks and training demonstrations, and starred in an episode of FROM WAGS TO RICHES WITH BILL BERLONI affectionately titled “Bad Chico.” He can be seen on the MTV live taping of his signature show, followed by their reality show THE SEARCH FOR THE NEXT ELLE WOODS. He will live on in our hearts and as LEGALLY BLONDE – THE MUSICAL's official logo. Donations in Chico’s name can be made to THE SANDY FUND at the Humane Society of New York, 306 East 59th Street, NY NY 10022. THE SANDY FUND is an endowment fund to benefit homeless animals created by Bill and Dorothy Berloni in honor of their first canine Broadway star “Sandy,” the rescue dog that originated the role of Sandy in the musical ANNIE.